Retrospective on the Design and Philosophy of Firefox
I recently had the opportunity to speak at BayCHI, where I gave a comprehensive review of the mission, philosophy, and specific heuristics that have guided Firefox's visual and interactive design through versions 3 and 4. This presentation was given at PARC on the eve of Firefox 4's launch.
I opened with a discussion of net neutrality, the underlying ideological roots of the PC industry, and Mozilla's mission to protect the Web. If you aren't that in to Internet freedom (really?), skip on ahead to time marker 9:35 where I describe two conflicting philosophies of UX design, and where Mozilla lands on that spectrum.
At time marker 19:20, I dive into the specific usability principles that have driven Firefox's design. These principles include:
- external consistency
- protecting cognitive flow
- designing an iconic form
- visual hierarchy
- efficiency of use
- selective visual variables
- creating a visually consistent conceptual model
- leveraging spatial memory
- utilizing usage metrics to streamline and refactor a UI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Howard Mann is the founder of Brickyard Partners, a business strategy agency based in Portland, OR. Prior to founding Brickyard Partners in 2001, Mann owned a premier international logistics company with over 140 Million in revenue, six U.S. offices and a global network of over 40 agents worldwide.
As that business came under severe pressure from the previous economic downturn and industry consolidation, Howard lead the company out from those treacherous times by returning to the basics that make every business great and completing 6 acquisitions that re-imagined the business so it was highly attractive to buyers. Finding that “secret sauce” did not come easily but has fueled his purpose to help other business leaders to never have to go through what he endured. Through real world experience and those hard times in the “trenches” of business he has learned that it is not following the latest fad, copying competitors or adding complexity that makes a business truly great. His pragmatic approach and knowing what it feels like to sit in the CEO/Owner chair is what makes his work so different and effective.
In addition to his strategy, marketing and communications work, Mann coaches a select group of entrepreneurs, CEO's and business owners. His highly focused workshops and keynotes help executive teams take aggressive action to unlock the true potential of their organizations and build remarkable businesses that endure. In good times and bad. Online and off.
Howard is a sought after speaker both in the U.S. and around the world. He writes frequently on his blog about the importance of the basics and reconnecting to the passion that too often gets lost as businesses mature.